James, Madison 2_cred Ben Robi PhotographyBalancing work, kids and time for yourself can be hard. Even an active person like myself finds it hard at times to fit a workout into my hectic life. So I have a rule called the “Plus One” rule to tackle this challenge when it occurs. Instead of another item on your to-do list, think of your workout as a party and invite your plus one! I usually start by sending a text out to my friends, inviting them to try something new. This week’s plus one party was a great Power Beats Hot Yoga class at Thunderbolt Power Yoga in Buckhead. We had a blast, and now my friends and I plan to meet for yoga at least twice a week. I highly recommend you give Thunderbolt Power Yoga a try – a drop-in class will run about $18. Don’t forget to invite your plus one!

Details: thunderboltpoweryoga.com

Posted in Madison James' Fitness Picks | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

seasonal spotlight beetsThese cold-season root vegetables are nutritional powerhouses containing folate, manganese, dietary nitrate and more. If you’ve only ever eaten pickled beets, you’re in for a treat when you try simply roasting them.

Basic prep: Rinse, peel and dice the beets. Wrap them in tinfoil and place them in a baking dish. Roast the beets at 400 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes. They will come out fork tender and sweet, ready to be served with your favorite soft cheese or added to a green salad.

Step it up: If the beets are fresh enough, you can sauté the leafy green tops with garlic for a whole new side dish.

Find It: Decatur Farmers Market is open all year, so it’s the perfect time to pick up fresh, local beets and other cold-season vegetables. Shop on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 498 N. McDonough St., Decatur, GA. decaturfarmersmarket.com

Posted in Best Bites | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The scoop on what’s new around town

Carolina HerreraLenox Square Mall boasts the first CH Carolina Herrera boutique in Atlanta, which offers a chic lifestyle collection for men, women and children. For guys, the boutique offers a mix of casual options and tailored suits all made with a classic style, an urban touch and the finest fabrics. The women’s collections includes everything from sportswear to impeccably tailored suits and elegant evening separates. This brand even offers kids’ clothes with vibrant colors and soft fabrics. 

Details: 3393 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA (404) 816-6275, carolinaherrera.com

Posted in Best Bulletin | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This month, enjoy reading these books from local publishers and authors.

“Atlanta Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Big Peach” 

Atlanta Chef's Table_coverThanks to food writer and Atlanta native Kate Parham Kordsmeier, you can peek into the kitchens of Atlanta’s best chefs and make their recipes yourself. Her book, published last month by Globe Pequot Press, contains 80 recipes from BoccaLupo, The Spence, Gunshow, Serpas and more. Each recipe has been revised to be suitable for any home cook. Order on globepequot.com for $26.95.


Inspired by Tradition_cover“Inspired By Tradition: The Architecture of Norman Davenport Askins” 

Having had an architectural practice in Atlanta since 1977, Norman Davenport Askins is now sharing his designs in print. The book, published by The Monacelli Press this past fall, features 256 pages of text and portraits of 15 unique homes designed by Askins himself. Also included is a special section detailing the traditional design aesthetics that inspired Askins’ work. This book is available at monacellipress.com for $60.

“Traveling the Two-Lane”


There’s nothing quite like rush-hour traffic to make you question, “What am I doing with my life?” Local professor and speech language pathologist Marilyn Berman asked herself that question on the drive home one day, and it led to an 18-month road trip to make sense of her past and live more fully in the present. She details her reflections, particularly about growing up gay in an unaccepting society, in this memoir. Local publisher BookLogix will release this title on February 26, and you can order a copy at booklogix.com.

Posted in Best Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This local organization believes that caring for others is a top priority.

_DSC5076For many people, hopping in the car and heading to a nearby grocery store or farmers market is just a part of the weekly routine. These people have the time, transportation and resources to purchase whatever food they want for their families, including healthy, fresh, organic options. But for many others – nearly two million in Georgia, according to a report from the Atlanta Regional Commission – food shopping looks very different.  These Georgians are stuck in food deserts with access only to fast food restaurants and convenience stores with few healthy options.

To combat this problem, Georgia Food Oasis came together 18 months ago. This organization is as collaboration between more than 40 existing groups such as Atlanta Community Food Bank, The Atlanta Mobile Market, The Captain Planet Foundation, Fulton Fresh, Georgia Food Bank Association, Georgia Organics and many more, all focused on changing those deserts into places of abundance. Cicely Garrett, the Food Systems Innovation Manager for Atlanta Community Food Bank, explains, “We chose Food Oasis for our name because we wanted to change the conversation. Instead of focusing on what is not, focus on what could be: innovative solutions that address access, choice, education, quality and cost.”

In a short year and a half, Georgia Food Oasis has made great strides toward those solutions. They partnered with the Atlanta Mobile Market to offer two-for-one value on SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) used on their fresh produce, helping to minimize the obstacle of cost. Partner organization Fulton Fresh brought 19 tons of fresh produce to more than 5,000 residents in 16 neighborhoods. Another partner, the Captain Planet Foundation, donated 1,000 pounds of fresh produce grown in 52 Metro Atlanta school gardens.

“We hope that Food Oasis will become an umbrella of integrity and confidence for the fresh and healthy food movement in underserved communities,” Garrett says. To join that movement, you can become an individual “Champion” supporter or an organizational “Partner.” Attend their bi-monthly meetings at Atlanta Community Food Bank, and visit georgiafoodoasis.org for more details.

Posted in Best Cause | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Joy Harden Bradford from Thriveworks Atlanta Counseling is here to share her partner advice for strengthening your relationships.

Bradford, Joy Harden_cred Hardens PhotographyWhat is the most common problem your clients have with their partners? 

Being triggered by an unresolved issue from the past, such as having trust issues from previous relationships.

What steps can partners take to improve their relationship? 

Recognize your own triggers – what central themes come up in arguments with your partner? Also, address issues as soon as possible after they arise. Listen to your partner’s perspective. Learn how to apologize.

What have you learned from romantic relationships? 

I’ve learned to set healthy boundaries and that it’s OK to speak up and ask for what I want and need from my partner.

What is your favorite quote about romantic relationships? 

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” – Sam Keen. This quote speaks to the importance of realistic expectations in relationships.

Posted in Best Advice | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spaghetti Squash and Chicken, 1Good nutrition can be the best medicine of all. Local integrative practitioner Dr. Tasneem Bhatia focuses on just that concept in her new book, “The 21-Day Belly Fix.” In it, she features recipes that promote optimal gut and probiotic health, including this simple weeknight option. It combines lean protein to build muscle, olive oil to slow digestion and garlic to promote good gut bacteria.


1 small spaghetti squash

1 4-ounce chicken breast

1 tsp olive oil

1 clove of garlic, crushed

½ cup canned tomatoes, diced

1⁄8 tsp oregano


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the squash lengthwise, scoop out any seeds and rest both halves on a baking dish. Roast for about 45 minutes or until a fork can easily puncture the skin.

Using a grill pan or countertop grill, cook the chicken breast until cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side.

While the chicken breast is cooking, heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, tomatoes and oregano and cook for about 5 minutes.

When the spaghetti squash is ready, remove strands from the skin, place in a large bowl and top with the tomato mixture and grilled chicken breast.

Note: These amounts make enough for one person, so adjust accordingly.

Courtesy of Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, “The 21-Day Belly Fix,” atlantaholisticmedicine.com

Posted in Best Bites | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 30 of Fitness – West Coast Workout 

Best Self staffer: Aubrey Campbell 

Tammy Stokes, Aubrey Campbell

Tammy Stokes, Aubrey Campbell

If you haven’t taken Tammy Stokes’ 60-minute West Coast LIFT class at West Coast Workouts, grab a friend, a water bottle, and head there now! Tammy has created a wonderful atmosphere and following, as there are two locations—one in Buckhead and another in Sandy Springs—for you to choose from depending on where you live. For Day 30 of Fitness, I enrolled in class at her Buckhead studio.

Given that Tammy is the owner and creator of West Coast Workout, I was excited to say the least. Her class was packed, and I could tell I wasn’t the only one excited to learn from Tammy! Before the class she let me know that West Coast LIFT is designed for women and all about using your own body to help sculpt and tone.

To begin our workout we started with a warm-up to get our bodies moving and then jumped right into class. From start to finish, we were constantly moving. On top of sculpting we also incorporated cardio and used a variety of high kick routines and lunges to create a long, lean appearance to the core and lower body. The last 20-minutes of class required us to use two-pound weights and a heart rate elevation that shaped the upper body. Also, with the two-pound weights we completed a variety of punches and movements to isolate our biceps, triceps and shoulders, but still moving to the music and keeping our heart rate up.

Before arriving to West Coast Workout I was excited because I’ve heard so many great things about Tammy and her studio! During, I felt great. The music was upbeat and everyone seemed to be having fun! The hardest part was toward the end. My body felt tired, but I made sure to push myself in order to keep up with Tammy and everyone else in the class.The most enjoyable part of this workout was with the two-pound weights. It was tough. The two pounds felt like 20 by the end of class, but I loved the burn and feeling that I was really toning my arms. Once the workout ended I felt even more awesome than when I arrived! I worked up a great sweat and think that this is an awesome morning workout to start your day!

Tammy truly has a passion for helping her clients live their healthiest and happiest life.  If you are a woman looking to get a great workout to sculpt a long, lean body, the West Coast LIFT is for you!

Details: 107 Paces Ferry Road Set 100, Atlanta, GA, (404) 467-0602, www.westcoastworkout.com

Posted in 30 Days of Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 29 of Fitness Atlanta Personal Trainer Program of Atlanta School of Massage

 Atlanta Home Improvement staffer: Jeret Adair 

Atlanta Personal Trainer Program

Atlanta Personal Trainer Program

For Day 29 of Fitness, I arrived to Atlanta School of Massage’s Personal Trainer Program studio  at 7 a.m., and was greeted by Tony, my enthusiastic and knowledgeable personal trainer. He explained that he would be walking me through an incredibly thorough examination of my body composition, and told me to remove my shirt so that I could stand in front of the mirror with my arms to my side. Smiling, he assured me that everything was going to be fine and that it wouldn’t hurt one bit. In about one-minute he measured my height, weight, neck circumference, thigh circumference and waistline. He then measured my body fat percentage by pinching together my excess skin with calipers on certain folds of my body. All of these measurements contributed to my BMI (body mass index) which he told me was just about right for my height and age.

After the examination, Tony put me through an endurance and physical fitness assessment. This is where the tough part began.

I held an abdominal plank for as long as possible, did as many push-ups as I possibly could in one minute, and I hopped around on one foot to different corners of a mat for two minutes. From there, we then moved on to a strength assessment with weight training. We did a few warm-up sets to get comfortable, and then he recorded my one rep max of my barbell bench press and barbell squat. From there I was completely gassed, but I retreated to the great downstairs bathroom/locker room to take a much needed warm shower. I left Atlanta School of Massage’s Personal Training Program with a great reading on personal fitness and new fitness goals. Overall, this workout was wonderful

Details: 2 Dunwoody Park South, Atlanta, GA, (877) 291-4485, www.atlantapersonaltrainerprogram.com

Posted in 30 Days of Fitness | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Day 28 of Fitness – UFC Gym Perimeter 

Best Self staffer: Chela Counts

Chela Counts, Coach Floyd

Chela Counts, Coach Floyd

More likely than not, you’ve either heard or read about undefeated American professional boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. But what you probably haven’t experienced first-hand is UFC Gym Perimeter’s UFC Fit class with Coach Floyd. Nicknamed “The Philosopher,” Coach Floyd may not be the actual Floyd Mayweather, but his expertise in the fitness industry and own personal experience as a boxer will lead you to believe you are being trained by the best! So with only two days left of Best Self Atlanta’s 2nd Annual 30 Days of Fitness blog series, for Day 28 of Fitness, I decided to revisit this gym (but try a different class) because of its close-knit fitness community.

UFC Fit is a 60-minute high-interval training class that focuses primarily on strength, stability and your core. My fitness goal has been to tighten and tone, and this class does just that! Once arriving to the gym, there was lots of parking available and a warm staff to greet me. For an evening weekday class, this gym was packed! After Floyd introduced himself to me and the other regular class members settled in, we immediately began our warm-up. From calf raises to squats, push-ups on a medicine ball and light jogging within the gym, before I knew it I was sweating.

Chela Counts

Chela Counts

The hardest part of my workout was fully completing each rep, but the best part was pairing with other members in the class. For one of the partner exercises, Floyd instructed us to face our partners while completing reps of push ups, cheering one another on throughout. That motivation and Floyd’s positive energy kept me motivated to give it my all. Before arriving to the gym I was tired from the day and didn’t think I would make it through his class, but toward the end, I wished that the workout hadn’t ended.

As a first-timer to the class, I felt welcomed and re-energized to finish my week strong! I highly recommend bringing a bottle of water to replenish yourself during and after the class is complete, and I recommend this class to those of all fitness levels. I look forward to another class at UFC Gym Perimeter.

Details: Perimeter Village, 4745 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA, (404) 445-8324, www.ufcgym.com

Posted in 30 Days of Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment